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Trouble in Paradise?

(Ridgway) Most readers are aware that back in April local bovines adopted the metric system and, since then the herds have been documenting and measuring sizes using that international standard. Unfortunately a problem exists in that cowboys still cling to the English system.

While the situation appears tolerable to the tinhorn, out here on the ranch the conflict grows with neither side willing to make concessions. 

“When the cattle are in the pasture or the barn there’s really no operational problem,” said Dutch Butterfly, foreman of the X-Bar-None Ranch at Cow Creek. “It’s when we have to move the critters that the pies hit the fan.”

Butterfly added that branding and dehorning are also more difficult since the cows measure things one way and the cowboys another.

“It’s the same size brand and the same amount of horn we’re cutting off. It’s just lost in the translation,” he spat. “There’s enough to do trying to make a living out here without communication breakdowns.”

Actually it’s easy enough to convert from English to metric and back. For example: when changing miles to kilometers one simply multiplies the number of miles by the number of kilometers that make up one mile. When weighing hay stacks converting from pounds to kilograms is just as easy.

“These cows are generally a cooperative, but distant lot,” said Butterfly. “We don’t always know what they’re thinking out there chewing the cud and all. What’s gotten into them is hard to say but it all began when they went metric on us. Whenever anyone suggests they go back to the good old American measurement they start all that bawling and kicking and it’s just not worth the hassle.”

Butterfly said the spring roundup was a real mess in Ouray County with cows going one way and cowpunchers another. Feeding time became a struggle since daily allotments were subject to repeated question. Even water measurements got mixed up and had to be sorted out one cow at a time.

After two months of study the Western State University Math Department advised that, since the cows were mere livestock, it was up to the cowboys to adapt. That didn’t go down well either.

“Primates don’t kowtow to domestic herd animals,” said Butterfly. “It just ain’t right.”

Another veteran rancher, Slim Tinkleholland of Mill Creek, near Gunnison, told The Horseshoe that if cows were taught respect when they were still calves they wouldn’t get so uppity.

“Nobody here is belly-aching over bovine/heiffer desires to better themselves. It’s just that for centuries we’ve been a team and now they want to go and change a good thing,” he said. “The fact is that they are bred for meat and dairy and until that changes it’s the wrangler that’s boss.”

Tinkleholland reflected on a day last May when he and his ranch hands were moving a herd of cattle from Mill Creek to Jack’s Cabin.

“The head just didn’t know what the tail was doing,” he winced. When a cowboy hollered in inches the cows mooed in meters. At one point we feared that the dogs and horses would mutiny and adopt that damn metric count. By the time the afternoon was over we had Herefords spread from Almont to Baldwin. What a mess.”

– Small Mouth Bess 

“The Dodgers are scared to death to come over the mountain and play some real baseball teams. We’d kick their asses.” – Western Slope resident, Melvin Arenado Toolski, 119, former baseball coach and body chemistry professor at Pine Beetle Institute.